It’s been a testing winter in Australia…there’s no doubt about it. Whenever Mother Nature decided to show up and party, it quickly froze or disappeared with rain. With the resorts only open for 16 weeks of the year, you need to make the most of any opportunity of good snow and conditions…or even slightly above average conditions.
Thankfully, last week conditions finally lined up. Mother Nature delivered around 80cm of snow across the NSW alps and it was coupled with no wine and sunshine. Perfect. It was game on. Time to milk it till the cow’s run dry.
For this mission, we take you behind the scenes of what a photo shoot for the annual Transfer Snowboard Magazine looks like. Capitalising on conditions and working with the elements to make the magic happen. It’s not easy…but with the right crew – it’s a process and a day out that is cool to be a part of.
We called up Mark Clinton, photographer from Sydney, NSW to shoot it down overnight once we caught wind of the incoming snow. Mark’s been dabbling in the snow scene for the past few years now and has made it a top priority for him to shoot snow. It’s for the passion and that really comes across in his snow based shots. Mark landed the cover of our 10 Year Anniversary issue that dropped last year, plus the main feature story.
A transfer favourite, we were stoked that he jumped at the chance to shoot it down and call Jindabyne his home for the week, whilst we set about scoring and shooting each day.
Clint Allan, is a pro-snowboarder also from Sydney, NSW. Clint has been involved in the snowboard scene for over 15 years and has consistently stayed at the top all the way through. Having filmed video parts for Sandbox, Billabong, YES Snowboards plus many more, Clint knows a thing or two about freeriding and what goes into getting the ‘shot’ and how to work a variety of different filmers and photographers. Clint’s landed a few Transfer covers in his time!
The photographer and rider relationship is a fickle one. Sparks can fly and magic is made sometimes, other times turmoil and tears. When you place two ‘creatives’ together in a setting, you want them to see eye to eye, or at least respect each persons craft. This is exactly what Mark and Clint went about doing. Two people looking for the same end result, happy to work with each other along the way to get there.
We headed out the back of Thredbo Resort, which is home to some of the best sidecountry accessed terrain in Australia. Just minutes from the resort, there is a multitude of zones, spots and naturally formed features to ride in a particular spot called Stanley’s, that’s once the snow has fallen. Stanley’s has a deep history with Aussie snowboarding. Some of the most iconic photos ever shot have been in Stanley’s, you definitely don’t feel like you’re in Australia when you ride it. We had been waiting around weeks for the opportunity to get out there, once the forecast looked strong, we made the call to go for it and lock in some days shooting.
As soon as we entered ‘The Zone’ we knew it was on. Testing the snow quality, it was about as good as it gets. Light, dry and deep snow in pockets with enough snow to build something to touch some sky. Perfect. Time to get to work.
There’s no messing around with Mark or Clint. They made a game plan to nail a variety of shots – tight pow turns and to build a natural hip style jump plus a little lifestyle along the way.
After Mark found the perfect spot for Clint to do the first turn, it was a mutual understanding that this was the best place to ride and shoot the turn. As Mark got into position, he lined it up and Clint called ‘Dropping’. Nailed it. One down, in the bag…a sign of a good day ahead.
We walked over into the next gully to find the perfect spot to build the natural hip, for a photo that both Mark and Clint had in mind at the beginning of the day. Australia is know for its wind in the alps, sometimes a punish but also such a blessing as it creates these incredibly natural wind lips, shaped like a wave. You can ride wind lips from any direction and they also make for the perfect landing as there is some steepness in transition.
Having time to concentrate and explore my backyard throughout this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. I’m impressed each time I go out by its diversity of features. The hardest part is waiting for the right window – Mark Clinton
Clint’s been around the traps and has snowboarded and shot with some of the best guys around the globe. So when it comes to building a jump, he’s the guy you want to be doing it with. He’s like a part time snowboarder, engineer and labourer. It ain’t just parties and pow turns. Clint reminisced on his career as we built the jump and the key point to take away from it was that, when he was filming and shooting photos, he’d snowboard for maximum 30 mins a day and be building for around 4 to 5 hours. Crazy the amount of effort that goes into getting ‘the shot’.
Mark didn’t hold back either when it came to building the jump, as the light was going quick, and that’s the photographer’s worst nightmare, he dropped a couple layers and got stuck into assisting Clint to build it quickly.
After the jump was built, landing looked good and Mark was in position. It was go time. The jump takeoff had a gnarly rock sticking right out before the takeoff. On the first hit, Clint actually hit the rock before the jump with his back, somehow still managing to hit the jump and find the sweet spot.
The hardest thing with riding outside of the park is that it’s not built to perfection. You’re working with what’s in front of you and it takes a few hits to really find the amount of speed, air, pop, timing and more to nail it. Clint, being one of the best, dialled the jump in quickly and got to work.
He always said he didn’t ever like a method photo that had been run of him in the past. Such a timeless and classic trick, especially on a hip. Clint found the sweet spot and nailed a perfect method, landing with ease.
After a review of the images and high fives…I mean elbows all round, it was time to milk the spot a few more times. Clint got to work putting in a boot pack and worked with Mark to nail some more turns and lifestyle images. In the end, it’s all the images that lead up to ‘the shot’ that tell the story.
Both Mark and Clint were riding on a high from the successful day. After doing a final review of the images, we were all stoked to say the least. Clint nailed some bangers…2021 cover? You’ll have to wait and see…It was time to head back into the resort and call it a day!
Huge shout-out to our partners for making these winter missions possible! It’s a pretty crazy time right now to be supporting a travel series and it’s rad to see brands we love, support what we love. Thanks to Ford Australia for the wheels, Go Pro for all the cameras, YETI for all the gear, Tourism Australia for the get around knowledge and Pirate Life for the frothies to end the day in style.